It’s a particularly Richard Sandomir-centric Saturday in the New York Times, as the Gray Lady’s sports media columnist covers a) a dubious promotion guaranteed to piss off Hank Steinbrenner, baseball historians and racists alike and b) Tim McCarver’s nasty habit of pissing off his paymasters (to say nothing of the viewing public).
It was a Yankees-Mets game at Shea Stadium in June 1998 when McCarver said that Bobby Valentine should have brought in Brian Bohanon, a lefty, not the right-hander Mel Rojas, to relieve the injured Al Leiter and face Paul O™Neill, a left-handed batter.
Valentine had a rationale: left-handed hitters were batting .182 against Rojas.
œI said it was the wrong move, and, first pitch, O™Neill hit a home run, McCarver said on Thursday in a telephone interview. The Yankees won, 8-4.
About a month later, McCarver said, he was summoned to a postgame meeting with Nelson Doubleday, a co-owner of the Mets, in Doubleday™s Shea Stadium suite. œHe often wanted to talk ” we™d talk socially ” but this time he had a semi-ominous tone, McCarver said.
McCarver said Doubleday told him Valentine and his coaches had been aboard his yacht in Nantucket on a recent off-day. McCarver said: œNelson told me that Valentine said, ˜McCarver™s got to go,™ and Nelson told the manager, ˜I™ll handle it.™ Doubleday asked McCarver to soothe Valentine by telling him that he™s done a œhell of a job with the players he had.
œAnd I said, ˜If I felt that way, I would have said it already,™ McCarver said. œAt that point, I didn™t feel real good about keeping my job.
During their talk, McCarver said, he asked Doubleday if their chat was in reference to his Bohanon-but-not-Rojas call. œHe shook his head yes, he said.
Valentine said in an e-mail message this week from Japan that he did not remember saying McCarver had to be fired. He said he could œhardly ever remember having a talk about anything serious with Nelson.
His e-mail message also assessed Randolph™s recent criticism of SNY™s choice of camera angles, which, Randolph has said, cast him in an unflattering light.
œMy mom always said the same thing, that the only time she saw me was when I looked like death warmed over, he wrote. œI am sure it was not true, just as I am sure that one thing that Tim said could not have possibly gotten him fired.